Bronchitis is an infection of the lining in your lungs, most commonly occurring due to a virus. The condition typically starts with common cold-like symptoms like sore throat and cough, and it can be either acute or chronic that usually affects just one part or both parts of the respiratory system. Acute bronchitis lasts up to three weeks, while chronic bronchitis lasts for months or more. With chronic bronchitis, symptoms might continue to come back or linger forever. In addition to that, bronchitis can also be developed into pneumonia when there’s excessive inflammation that blocks airflow through the lung tissue, preventing oxygen from reaching the bloodstream and resulting in fever and difficulty breathing. This article will help you understand the causes of bronchitis, symptoms, treatments for this condition, and how will a pulmonary doctor helps you.
Symptoms of Bronchitis
If you have been coughing for more than two weeks and the cough is dry or productive, it’s time to call your doctor. The most common bronchitis symptoms are:
- A persistent cough that lasts longer than two weeks
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Fever and throat soreness.
Other signs of bronchitis include shortness of breath, fatigue, chills, headache, and weight loss. Many people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may not experience any symptoms until they develop pneumonia which can be fatal in some cases.
Causes of Bronchitis
Bronchitis can be caused by bacterial infections (most often strep), viruses, environmental irritants such as smoke from fires, pollution or chemicals in paint fumes, etc., dander from animals with fur who sleep in beds with humans, allergies that cause an overactive response to otherwise harmless substances like pollen particles, fungi that live on food and sometimes within the body itself – not usually harmful but may trigger asthma-like reactions in susceptible people.
Acute bronchitis is an infection of the airways in your lungs. The most common bacterial cause is Streptococcus pneumonia, a type of bacteria responsible for many illnesses. Sometimes viruses or fungi can make you sick with acute bronchitis too. Acute bronchitis usually gets better on its own without treatment; however, it may last up to three weeks before getting better. You should take care not to spread this contagious disease by practicing good hygiene such as washing hands often, covering coughs/colds, avoiding close contact when possible (especially around children).
While acute bronchitis is typically a short-term condition that can be treated with antibiotics, chronic bronchitis is a long-term respiratory complication. Chronic means the symptoms are prolonged and persistent in nature rather than being temporary. It also usually involves two or more consecutive flare-ups of coughing spells at least three times per year for over one year.
The causes of chronic bronchitis are not entirely understood. However, it could be an infection combined with smoking cigarettes, pollution, occupational hazards such as dust from woodworking or metalworking jobs, other irritants, which include fumes from gasoline vapors, among many others. The person’s immune system may weaken because their airway protective mechanisms have been damaged by repeated exposure to pollutants like cigarette smoke, which triggers chronic bronchitis.
Your physician will use tests such as blood work, chest X-rays, CT scans, and cultures (samples) taken during bronchoscopy to make a definitive diagnosis. Treatment may include antibiotics given intravenously at first followed by oral medications when better able to handle it; fluids either through IV injections or drinking lots of water; inhaled medicines that thin mucus in the lungs so air can pass more quickly.
Why should you seek medical help?
There are several reasons why you may want to see a pulmonologist if you have bronchitis. It is essential that those with chronic cough and congestion symptoms not ignore the fact that they might be at risk for complications such as pneumonia, which can lead to hospitalization. In this case, it’s time to call in the experts. Your pulmonary doctor will prescribe medications that will help you manage your bronchitis symptoms and make them less severe. For chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), patients should make an appointment immediately to prevent worsening conditions.
What are the treatments for bronchitis?
The first step is to determine the underlying cause of bronchitis bacterial infection, virus, allergy, and treat that condition accordingly. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the disease: mild (coughing up occasional phlegm), moderate (usual cough with sputum; frequent bronchial spasms), or severe (recurring fever; productive cough).
Other treatments include cough suppressants if you have persistent coughing spells, which can lead to pneumonia in some cases; over-the-counter expectorant medicines may help ease a dry hacking cough with phlegm production but do not cure chronic bronchitis; steroids are sometimes prescribed by doctors for worsening symptoms when an infection has triggered extra inflammation.
You might also need tonsillectomy surgery in severe cases of chronic infection like tonsillitis to prevent the reoccurrence of throat swelling. Additionally, If you are immunocompromised, talk to your doctor about whether taking an antiviral medication like acyclovir can help reduce viral load and limit potential complications of this illness, such as pneumonia.
Your pulmonologist may also prescribe an antibiotic such as amoxicillin in combination with other drugs like clarithromycin if a virus causes your condition with the hope that it will stop future infections from developing. It’s important to note that pregnant patients should not take this antibiotic because it can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including congenital disabilities and miscarriage.
The best way to treat any bronchitis is by ensuring that your immune defenses are strong through proper nutrition. Eat protein and fresh fruits, vegetables & raw nuts, exercise (30 mins every day), and sleep at least eight hours per night.
How to prevent bronchitis?
It is vital to prevent bronchitis because it can be caused by several factors such as viral infections, environmental irritants like smoke, and chemicals. In order to protect against these causes, it is essential that you reduce the risk of getting ill in general, which means not being around anyone with an infectious illness, stay away from any sources of pollution or chemical exposure (i.e., smoking), wear face masks when there are high levels of contaminants in the air, make sure your home has good ventilation if applicable so pollutants aren’t trapped indoors, get plenty of exercises outdoors but avoid exercising outside on days where ozone levels are highest due to smog buildup or during times when vehicle emissions will affect outdoor air quality, etc., drink lots of fluids including water, and eat a healthy diet.
Pulmonologists in Flemington, New Jersey
Hunterdon Pulmonary & Sleep Associates has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating various types of bronchitis-causing ailments. Our renowned pulmonologist will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan. Please schedule an appointment today to speak with one of our professionals.